Nerd Lunch Podcast 17: List Busters!

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Nerd Lunch Podcast 17: List Busters!

Lists have become the one of the Internet’s favorite ways to cook up easy content and generate views. They’re also one of our favorite ways to cook up easy episodes and generate downloads. In this week’s episode we turn our critical eyes to a list of the top 25 sci-fi movies and tear it to shreds… or do we? In hindsight we probably should have decided what it meant to bust a list before we started.

Happy Holidays!

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Nerd Lunch co-founder and podcast co-host


  1. Jack February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Ah, I see your point about the toys stimulating imagination. I'm ashamed I didn't get that before. I, too, was the perfect age to get sucked into the merchandising. By Empire, the twin boys must have been about 5 or 6, and I came to view every new movie as basically another thousand dollars worth of useless crap for them to nag me for.

    Muppets in scifi? Okay, I won't push back too hard on that; I guess you could argue that Chewbacca was an unbranded Muppet, but seeing that teddy bear, Yoda, teaching the most bloodthirsty species yet discovered how to be warriors was beyond my ability to accept. And I'm not going to get started on Ewoks. I'll just say "Jumped the Shark," and let it go at that…

  2. CT February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    It is interesting to hear opinions of the Star Wars franchise from those on the "other side of the hill" to use your term, Jack. I personally was the perfect age to get sucked into the merchandising when the movies originally came out. And I would argue that is the greatest strength of those movies is setting up a world where children can run around with their imaginations. With every little background character getting their own action figure, I personally had to fill in the gaps as to how those characters interacted with the main cast or other background characters.

    Your description of post-first Star Wars movie movies is dead on. They are two-hour long commercials. Empire at least delivers the start of a story, but Return just phones it in and completely gives into the darkside of merchandising.

    I would argue that puppetry has a place in science fiction and who better than to call on than Jim Henson to help execute that? But casting Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda was probably a disservice to both franchises in the end.

    Also, since the recording of this episode, I have seen Avatar and plan to offer my thoughts on it, perhaps on Jeeg's review of it from a few months back. To sum up, I can't really recommend it although there were a couple of bits that I did like. The villain of the movie was amazing. I wanted to pluck him out of that and give him a better movie.

    Thanks again for the kind words, Jack. Your initial thoughts about the synopsis are similar to what we think going into recording these. Glad we come out the other end not sounding incredibly stupid.

  3. Jack February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    It's official: You guys ARE one of my guilty pleasures. Every time I see your synopsis, I think, "Oh, Lord, how stupid is this going to be?" Then I get around to listening, and find myself hanging on every word! In case you haven't worked it out, that is a complement.

    So, I guess your purpose here is to generate conversation, so I have a few observations from the other side of the hill (which I went over some time ago!).

    Forbidden Planet could easily be a Star Trek episode, right down to the captain moving on the nubile daughter of the mad scientist. You don't have to blur your eyes too much in order to see Shatner, Nimoy, and company in all the appropriate roles. BTW, this was one of a handful of movies from my childhood that if you hadn't seen, just don't bother joining the conversation.

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers: I was 8 years old, and every Saturday, all the neighborhood kids would scrounge up a dime, and one of the parents would drive us over to the Strand Theater in Ocean Beach for the Monster Matinee. We were fed a constant diet of The Killer Shrews, The Giant Gila Monster, Tarantula, and then there was this thing. None of us "got" it, it was just this uber-boring gabfest with some giant lima beans thrown in, and was about as interesting to us 8-year olds as watching Congress debate a farm subsidy bill. We didn't realize until years later that it was actually an anti-communist movie. Think of that last scene with Kevin McCarthy running out onto the highway, going up to cars, shouting insanely, "They're taking over! They're already here! You're next! You're next!" Tail Gunner Joe could have written this screenplay (and may have).

    2001 is based on a much better short story by Clarke called The Sentinel, in which the monolith is dug up on the dark side of the Moon, and when the sun hits it, it sends an incredibly powerful signal into space, leaving the reader to wonder who has been summoned, and how long we have to get ready. Spooky stuff.

    Star Wars: I was 30, and had already developed a wide streak of cynicism. I thought the first movie was a true watershed, advancing the technical execution of scifi movies to a new high ground from which there could be no retreat. History has shown that is largely true, but I viewed the second, and all of them afterward as 2-hour long toy commercials you had to pay to see. It began with Yoda. Nothing against the Muppets; they are great in their own venue, but I contend that they have no place in a work of high scifi. This view was vindicated in the episode with the pod racers, where the sportscaster's two heads argued with each other over the racers.

    Finally, Avatar. Sorry, CT, you are not the only person on the planet who hasn't seen Avatar. I may have, though like you, I have a built-in aversion to liking anything that "everybody" tells me I have to like, but when I heard the word "unobtanium," my bullcrap detector went off so suddenly and so loud that I almost soiled myself! No -bleepin'- way I'm watching this.

    So, there you are. I always say "great job," but dammit, Jim, it's always true. Keep it up!

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